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THE DAY OF INFAMY By Nosa Igiebor

Since after the Civil War, which threatened the continuing survival of Nigeria as one nation, whenever we are faced with serious challenges, we kick them far than the road. And we just move on. We are always moving on. But the question is, moving on to where?

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Anytime Nigeria moves on, it’s goingbackwards and backwards to the abyss. Most of the rest of Africa, includingnations far less naturally blessed with resources, is striving to make genuine,measurable progress. But we are resigned to our country’s inexorable slide tochaotic irrelevance.

We have grown out of our penchantfor perambulation. That is movinground and round our problems, as Fela inimitably captured it in one of hisclassic musical ode to the confusion and corruption that blight a big, fatcountry as Nigeria. Yes, big and fat for nothing, and tragically useless. Ithas increasingly become a danger to itself and the whole continent. If Nigeriaimplodes, the rest of Africa would feel the pains. And it wouldn’t be pretty atall.

One of the parameters for measuringthe progress of any nation is the quality of its leadership, the vision or lackof, of those who preside over its affairs. When a nation is saddled withleaders, who are inebriated with power and who wallow in mediocrity, the nationsuffers. Confronted daily with a myriad of social pathologies that overwhelmstheir lives and the complete absence of any remediation from the government,the people feel helpless, defeated.

Elections give them the onlyopportunity to make their silent voices heard. But their entitled oppressorsalways manipulate elections. Those who betray their trust and mercilesslyexploit their weaknesses also determine what their will should be. They arecommanded to either ‘vote for us, sell your vote, or we just take it’.

On Febuary 23, a day of infamy, wewitnessed what Fela satirized as                   govement magic in another one of his hit songs. The government andthe ruling party connived to make a mockery of democratic elections. Theycommitted the electoral equivalence of a massive bank heist. On top of thehardship they have visited on Nigerians in almost four years, they showed themthat their votes don’t matter and won’t count. The message was raw and brutal:‘We are in control and we can’t be removed.’ What we think, what we feel andwhat we want don’t prick their deadened conscience. And they mock us to acceptthe reality they have enacted, that we are stuck with them, whether we like itor not.

Bewildered and desperately seekingto come to grip with the charade the Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC, displayed in the so-called collation of results, Nigerians resurrectedthe defunct Soviet Union’s late ruthless dictator, Joseph Stalin, to bearwitness to their plight. His pithy take on elections spoke eloquently to whathappened on the day of infamy. “The people who cast the votes decide nothing.The people who count the votes decide everything.”

After he has benefited from theworst election in the last 20 years – and we have seen terrible elections –President Muhammadu Buhari wants us to believe that he will “build on thefoundations of peace, the rule of law and opportunities for all.” And thosefake democrats, who were complicit in the wanton desecration of democracy,demand that, “genuine democrats should accept the outcome of the election.”Then we move on again, as we inevitably do when a clear and present dangerthreatens our cursed nation.

But why are we surprised andoutraged? Did we not see it coming? Yes, we did. Yet we were unprepared for thebrazenness of their impunity, the depth of their deviousness and theirpreparedness to defy our collective will and wish and ignore our cries. Theyrudely reminded us, just in case we forgot because we could vote that, wedon’t’ matter.

Before the elections, or moreappropriately selections, each time Buhari was asked if he would graciouslyaccept defeat, his response was telling. He said on different occasions, “Iwill win”, “Nobody will unseat me”, “I will congratulate myself.” That reflectshis mindset that he is ordained to be president, not subject to the examinationof his performance in his first tenure by those who gave him their mandate.

Now let’s get this clearly. He owesus nothing. We owe him for being our president. We should stop trying to holdhim to account. We ought to be blaming his predecessors for his third-rateperformance, not him. We should be in immeasurable gratitude to him fordiscriminately ‘fighting corruption’, “technically defeating” Boko Haram andIslamic State West Africa and mismanaging the economy to be one of the worstperforming economies in Africa.

When President Goodluck Jonathancalled Buhari, his main opponent in 2015, to concede the election before thefinal result was announced, he couldn’t believe what happened. Since thatfamous call, he has expressed his amazement several times that a sittingpresident, with all the immense powers at his disposal, could allow himself tobe defeated and step away in dignity. He grudgingly praises Jonathan for thatsingular act of statesmanship and equally mocks him for his naivety.

Buhari is not Jonathan, and thetotal sham of an election that has handed him a second term is an undisguisedmockery of his predecessor and a disdain for Nigerians. All the gains made fromthe incremental but steady improvement in our electoral system under Jonathan,have been completely erased. And the national electoral commission pretends tobe still independent. After the Osun State governorship-election fiasco and thelatest shambolic elections it conducted, the independent in its nomenclature isnow meaningless. We don’t need to consult the oracle to know that, the nextelections this weekend will even be worse.

Many of those Femi Fani-Kayode hasdescribed as “useful idiots” and their millions of simpletons want AtikuAbubakar to accept ‘defeat’ and congratulate the ‘winner’ in the nationalinterest. But they did not indulge the slightest consideration of nationalinterest when they unleashed the army and their thugs on helpless voters;deliberately suppressed and blatantly prevented voting in many places;thump-printed ballot papers in millions; buying votes; giving cover forhundreds of thousands of under-age voters; wrote their own results; altered thegenuine ones; and terrorise and took many electoral officers hostage etc.

In addition, two different sets ofelectoral rules were applied in the north and south. In the face of thesewidespread violations of all the electoral laws and rules, is inexplicablesilence from INEC.

For Atiku to legitimise the fraudthat has further scandalised our country by conceding just like that, is to askus to move on once again without addressing all the salient issues theelections have magnified to our collective shame and discomfort. As notedearlier, that would only accelerate Nigeria’s descent into chaotic irrelevanceand, ultimately, a failed state.

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